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  MSNBC    News Nation    News/Business. Tamron Hall. Tamron Hall provides context and  
   informed perspectives on the stories making headlines. New.  

    April 18, 2013
    11:00 - 12:00pm PDT  

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know, and then boom, the big explosion and just glass went everywhere. i just ran. i just ran after that. >> i'm serious. it would like lift me up from all the pressure. of those pressure washs it lifted me up in the air and threw me. >> i don't know what we're going to see or have anything left if and when we're allowed to go back. >> at this hour authorities have told us 15 people are feared dead including volunteer firefighters and more than 160 others injured. the plant itself sits in a small town close to holmes and a nursing home as well as a middle school, and today the dallas morning news report, quote, texas officials knew in 2006 that west fertilizer's tank of high droj news ammonia was near schools and homes. charles is near west city, texas. what's the latest?
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i understand the atf is on its way to the investigation. >> that's right. the cause of the fire and the cause of the explosion is now under way. what they're going to do, tamron, is kind of treat this as a crime scene which sounds unusual but they say that's standard protocall now. they're going to rule anything out before they focus on what they believe it really is, which is an industrial calamity. you probably drove through here many times on your way from dallas/f-ft. worth to waco. it's a very small town. more than half of the town is sealed off because of last night's tremendous explosion at the west fertilizer plant. there was a fire that broke out about 7:30 at night and 15 minutes after the firefighters arrived they realized the fire was getting out of control and the fire chief ordered everyone to back off. but it was too late.
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within seven milnutes, the entie town felt it. i felt it 60 miles away in kaufman, texas, where we were covering the story of the d.a. there. >> charles -- >> reporter: yeah, go ahead. >> i wanted to get a quick update as well on the search and rescue that's ongoing. as i understand it, authorities were still going door to door. what can you tell me about the active search for any survivors? >> reporter: they say they're still going door to door, block to block, to try to figure out if there are any survivors. so far they have not had a briefing in the last few hours to give us an update. what they tell us is they believe 5 and 15 people have been killed or are missing. included in that number are between three and four firefighters. the initial first responders who turned out to that fire last
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night, tamron. >> all right, charles. thank you very much. i know you have a lot of details to collect there, to report, and we hope to have you back on before the end of the show. joining me now is dan halliburton of public affairs with the red cross. what can you tell me the red cross is doing to assist those people who are right now homeless and have nowhere to go as this investigation continues? >> we've been on the ground since early yesterday and we set up a shelter. the kind of good news on that is people had found places to stay with their friends and family and that's always a good thing. we'll have the shelter ready and available. later today we're going to be doing distributions of blankets. it's cold out there. we've also got our feeding activities ready to go. we're actually into some of the impacted neighborhoods, mostly helping the first responders. and then, of course, we're working with the authorities here and with our other partner
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agencies, the kind of services people will need here in west texas. >> do you have an estimate on how many families you're assisting right now who don't have a home, whose families were injured or destroyed? >> we don't have numbers on that. people are not being allowed in there. we were in there a little while ago. fema's going door to door, marking the homes. the damage is interesting and quite remarkable. the houses are impacted in ways from the explosion. >> and we're looking at some of the impact as it happened. in addition to single-family homes, there was the nursing home facility as well as the apartment complex that was essentially leveled as well. do you have one shelter, one place where you're sending people where they can get food? we mentioned that it's chilly there. people often associate texas with our famous hot weather but there's a cool front rolling through as well as other severe
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weather expected over the night. >> the community center has been a rail exchange point for a lot of people coming in there for the area. we have the one shelter open. we'll evaluate as other shelters are needed. but we'll have plenty of capacity for that and can move quickly and with the cooperation of authorities we'll make sure we've got room for everybody. and, of course, we'll have food, supplies, and psychological aid because people are going to be impacted. when we get back into the neighborhood, it will be a difficult day for them and it will be difficult. >> thank you very much. and we wish you and your entire team there the best as you assists those floeks. now joining me from capitol hill, bill flores, the explosion actually happened in his district. thank you for your time. >> good afternoon, tamron. how are you? >> i'm doing good. the feolks, as we can imagine,
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are shocked after what happened late last night but i have to ask you about the west fertilizer plant. the dallas morning news is reporting under a recent review they had no fire or explosive risks when asked, and they said the worst possible scenario according to the report would be a ten-minute release of ammonia gas that would injure or kill no one. they also said the second worst possibility would be a leak from a broken hose. but when they looked at their emergency planning, this scenario was not, at least according to the dallas morning news, part of the possibilities of what could happen. >> right. and if that's true we on obviously have trouble. i can say this. sometimes worst-case planning never envisions the real worst case, so you can't plan for every potential equipment failure, every potential human
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error. so it could be something where the planning that this accident was beyond the realm of anything they thought could happen. so i think before we jump to conclusions, we need to let the investigators conclude their work, but there's obviously a disconnect between this incident and what the plant management said could happen in the past. we need to run that down. >> absolutely, absolutely. and back to the most important folks of west, texas, that is your district. as far as those getting what they need, we spoke with the red cross. they've got a shelter there, but what about the resources in addition to what the red cross is able to provide? >> based on what we've heard from our local officials, the community is getting all of the support that it needs not only from our local first responders and local officials but also from our state officials and from the federal government. i just received news about an hour ago that the texas housing agency is working with its federal counterparts to provide
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temporary financial assistance and temporary shelter to anyone who has a need for housing and we do have a sub stan whal need for housing as a result of this incident and i can tell you the salvation army and red cross, everyday citizens are doing all they can to help them which is in great need. >> i'm very familiar with west. it's near where i'm from and we pass there often. i'm curious. did you ever hear from residents there regarding the proximity of this fertilizer plant with the school and the homes and the impact alone of this explosion. 2.1 felt through dallas. miles away. was there ever a concern from people in your district about the proximity, the closeness of this plant to homes and school? >> no. i have the same feelings that our local community did and that is that i've driven by that plant scores of times and i hate to say it, but i never gave it a second thought and i don't think
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the bulk of the citizens did eith either. so this is a wakeup call for this community and for similar areas around the country as well. >> congressman flores, thank you for your time and from people in your district as well. thank you. now to the latest on the boston marathon bombings. about 2,000 gathered at the cathedral for holy cross where president obama delivered these emotional words. >> and this time next year on the third monday in april the world will return to this great american city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for that 118th boston marathon. bet on it. >> and after the service, the
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president greeted volunteers at monday's boston marathon, some of whom rushed to help victims immediately after the explosions. the president then visited with some of the 58 victims who remain hospitalized today, at least seven of them still in critical condition. as far as the investigation is concerned, homeland secretary janet napolitano told congressional hearing today videos have identified two men who might have had a role in the bombings but she would not characterize them as suspects yet. she also pleaded for patience. >> this is not an ncis episode. sometimes you have to take time to properly put the chain together to identify the perpetrators, but everyone's committed to seeing that that gets done in the right way. >> nbc news correspondent pete williams has an update. what are you hearing regarding this video? >> video and still pictures is my understanding, tamron.
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>> yeah. >> we may see them today, we may not. this is kind of a back-and-forth thing. it seems, i guess, likely at this point that we will. and it should be clear if they do show these pictures today, these are the people they're most interested in talking to. you know, i don't think anyone at this point is saying the fbi has quote/unquote, found the bombers. they see the faces but they don't know who they are and if they show them publicly, they're going to be asking for public help to identify them so they can find them, talk to them and figure out what was going on there. it's always a difficult job to balance this, tamron, because on one hand the agented would prefer, i'm sure, to conduct this investigation on their own with a lot of tips that will turn out to be wrong but at the same time the longer they way, the more these people would get
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away or much worse try to do it again. there's competing pressures there. if they do put the pictures out, that will be the reason. >> we heard secretary napolitano say this is not ncis, an episode of a television show. but nevertheless, what they're doing, this is when we see truly what they are, that agency is great at putting together images, not stopping with what we see here. >> they say as soon as the bombing is over, we want your pictures. imagine the response. we were told it was three tara bytes of data. that is a staggering amount of video and pictures and they had to start sorting through all of that, supplemented by the helpful surveillance cameras they had from nearby businesses. but to go from there to where they are now shows you how intense the effort has been to try to find those needles.
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>> all right, pete. thank you very much. appreciate you joining us this hour. thank you, pete. >> you bet. still a day after the senate rejected the gun background checks the feeling is still raw for those fighting for gun rights safety. >> wow, what a day yesterday. what a terrible day for our country. you know, failing to pass background checks was a moment of shame for the senate. at least gabby and i think so. >> what advocates call common sense gun laws. plus partisan groups working on immigration reform. it will formally unveil a big proposal we've been waiting for but some republicans are already voicing opposition. we'll speak with our guest. find us on twitter or at "newsnation." [ phil ] when you have joint pain and stiffness...
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advocates for gun reform are vowing to fight on. in a stinging "new york times" op-ed this morning gabby giffords says, quotes, these senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the national rifle association. i'm asking every reasonable american to help me tell the truth about the coward is these senators demonstrated. i'm asking for mothers to stop
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the lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them, you asked them to vote. >> it was a pretty shameful day in washington, but this effort is not over. i want to make it clear to the american people, we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence so long as the american government doesn't give up on them. >> never mind. >> i don't work for them. i don't listen to them. i work for 26 million texans and i'm proud to represent them, and the views i represented on the floor of the united states senate are their views. >> let me bring in our news nation political panel. anna palmer, jonathan alter and. thank you. let's start off with you anna. the president says this is round one. what does round two look like? >> he and senator reid broekt
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promised they're going to bring this up again and again and you're seeing some of the gun control groups saying they're going to put up ads and go after senators who decided to vote against it. they're going to try to keep this in the in news s as much possible in the coming months. >> leaving that behind and moving on to immigration reform as if they both can't be addressed but there seems to be not just a concern with republicans but concerns of the white house of this overlap. >> absolutely. i mean it's going to be a tight schedule and certainly a top priority. the president has said his top priority for second term is immigration reform. they're going unveil the legislation later today and that's going to take up a lot of time and energy. it's very hard to see they could continue to juggle both of these big issues. >> jonathan, let me bring you in on the emotion of this. one of the family members of
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newtown, carly soto was on. chuck todd of "the daily rundown." and chuck asked her about rand paul and others who implied they were props and being used. let me play the exchange she had with chuck. >> yesterday the president seemed visibly angry and in particular there was a point where he was really upset at -- he was referring to what senator rand paul had said, that he accused the president of ewing you and other newtown families as props. what do you say to that kr criticism? >> that's just around awful thing. we're not props. he's standing with us, helping us fight our fight for our loved ones, and if you think that, then you're just absurd. >> the emotion's still very high. both sides battling, saying they're going battle again. what is your take on what we witnessed here. carly said they were already
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told before the vote that it was not going to happen and that she spoke with lawmakers who planned to vote no and saw a coldless, that they made their minds up and there was nothing she could say that would change it. >> well, think we're going to look back on this as an important historical moment. yes, it was a big loss for those who support gun safety legislation. i don't want to say gun control anymore. >> you and others have taken that on, absolutely. >> but this was a longer process, and the fundamental thing that's changed, tamron, is all of the intensity was on the other side. so for generations the only people who really cared in any numbers about gun laws were the nra and their supporters. and the people on the other side who supported what used to be called gun control, they carried about gun control and 15 other issues. they were not single issues the way the nra supporters were.
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that's now changed. we're now entering an era where a combination of anger, money, and intensity is going to change the political complex of this issue. but probably not until 2014. >> john than, has it really changed? >> it hasn't changed right now because we haven't had an election. what has to happen is one candidate in illinois who went down, she was the first one who went down. >> for the seat once held by jesse jackson jr. >> she was too close to the nra. in 2014, believe me. there are going to be republican members from suburban districts. not from real world districts but suburban districts who are on the wrong side of this issue and should be driven from public office from this immoral stand on this issue. when that happens that will send a very powerful message and in 2015 you will see legislation on this issue. >> i want to read you a portion of heidi heitkamp's statement. in part she said i thought long
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and hard about this. i've taken the tough meetings. i've heard overwhelmingly from the people of north dakota, and at the end of the day my duty is to listen and republican the people of north dakota, corwin saying the same thing, even though 90% say they support expanded background checks. the reality is we still have a divide. >> four democrats. >> but she was one of those four. >> with all due respect to heitkamp, she's a freshman. she doesn't know what her oath entiled when she was sworn in as a united states senator. >> what do you mean by that? >> if you're just going to represent your state, you don't need a human being. you can have a computer do it for you. the united states senate are part of the most deliberative body in the world. they're supposed to deliberate. that means balancing the state's interest with the national interest. that is what our politicians are
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supposed to do. and that requires wisdom. it's just a matter of taking a poll in your state, anybody can do that. we're supposed to be electing people who take things to a higher level and sometimes do go against the interest of their constituents if it's truly in their national interest. >> i want to read you part of the nra statement. this amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring live long friends, some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution. as we have noted previously, expanding background checks at gun shows or elsewhere will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in the schools. what do you say today? >> well, i say that the nra has no money without the gun
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industry, and congress is in bed with the gun industry. they've given immunity so you can't sue the gun industry, and the gun industry is uniquely unregulated. so the bushmaster and the smith and westons and the server capitalists, they fund the nra, the nra does everything they say they should do and as a result our u.s. senate can't even take a vote in support of uniform background checks for criminals. i mean this is so outrageous. what they basically did is say that we're limiting the bill to background checks at gun shows and on the internet, but in 33 states, prove gun dealers can sell guns undetected to criminals, and that's legal. and they couldn't even pass that legislation. so we need to win back our democracy, which is outrageously
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destroyed by special there's money and we saw first hand what congress is willing do. they're willing to continue to take nra and gun industry blood money and ignore the fact that 87% of americans die from guns every day. this bill was willfully lacking. it didn't even include a magazine limitation on the number of rounds and it didn't include military style weapons or safe storage. it didn't do anything to stop the next newtown-type massacre. we've got to throw these bums out in the next election, and if we wait until then, that's another 60,000 dead americans from largely preventable gun violence and the u.s. senate and the house of representatives have blood on their hands for
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allowing it. >> before we wrap up i want to go to the other side where high die heitkamp and others who insist while the phones may be ringing off the hook, while they picked up the phone, it was not someone saying support this amendment. it was someone saying the opposite. i know they play to their state, but nevertheless are they being played by large mainstream media? >> no. they certainly have ruled the roost in politics for a long time. of course, her rural constituents are going to believe some of the lies as the president calls them as have been told by the nra. she's going to hear from them. what's going to happen is a process of national education to reassure that the government's not trying to take away their guns. they're trying to save lives with common sense legislation. this is a process, tamron. it's an education process, but it has begun. and the money is no longer going to be on the side of the arms
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manufacturers and the nra. there's big money coming in not just from mayor bloomberg but from others. there will be a level playing field, and once those newtown survivors, the parents and those of other gun violence, once they appear in these districts, that's going to change a lot in the next election. >> thank you for your time. i greatly appreciate you joining our panel today. we continue to follow that breaking news. the massive explosion in west, texas. >> i just know that it was just loud, loud, booming, and people screaming and running. >> search and rescue operations right now still under way. the f -- atf also expected to arrive in texas. we'll'll get the latest in around update for you. and is mark sanford's comeback in jeopardy?
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developing now within minutes they will plan. now in the meantime they were, you might say, slightly upstaged as republican senators jeb sessions of alabama and david vitter of louisiana organized their news conference detailing opposition to the plan. senator sessions already quoted as saying, quote, he's cold front confident the american public will reject it. a 13-year pathway to documented immigrants, $4.5 billion to help secure u.s./mexico border and new visa programs and high and low skilled workers.
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and shift immigration policy toward family members. >> this is an example of washington working. if you would have watched the contentious meetings in the room and everyone meeting in the minute. >> congressman grijalva. thank you for your time. >> thank you, tamron. appreciate it. >> part of the strategy is to find the bill quickly, we're going to be open-minded about making it better but this is an all hands on deck-approach. that is the strategy, according to politico, to stop conservative attacks already in place including as we heard with congressman sessions and vitter. >> i think that strategy is appropriate. i think that there are issues with this bill that can be
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better, the pathway issue needs to be online. i think the strategy to move the legislation is the only way to go. to give stalling tactics and give more time are only that. they're stalling tactics to prevent legislation from being passed, to drive id closernd to drive it more and consequently no action. thank's the worst thing we could do is take no action. >> back to senator sessions and vitter here, it was over the weekend on the sunday morning programs you had senator sessions making allegation at least without any numerical proof that this legislation hurt american workers, and we've heard that in the past when
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immigration reform was brought up in a sense of dividing immigrant workers and them dividing. >> you're going to see that rhetoric getting ramped up even more, particularly in the house where we have a more resistant strain to republican colleagues of any form, any reform dealing with immigrants, period, and they're going to be resisting and trying to poison any legislation as much as they can. but the fact remains that the old tired rhetoric that divided this country for the last decade is not working. the majority of the american people want immigration reform. the majority of the family want family unification on a path to citizenship. that's a fact. and i think for us to allow that rhett richl to once again consume us, i think, would be a big mistake in moving this legislation forward. but you're going to hear it. you're going to hear amnesty.
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you're going to hear they're taking jobs away, drawing money from the public sector. all of those have been proven false time and time again. >> senator john mccain also in that interview on "morning joe," sir, said this is about politics, realizing if it wants to secure at least some latino vote in these national elections that this is the right move. however, you have senator shelby quoted in this same article that i mentioned basically saying, quote, we've seen this movie before 27 years ago. remember? those are his words. what makes you feel confident this time around beyond the politics of it that we won't have a surprise vote or a surprise opposition that could derail this legislation or greatly change it from what it is right now, a proposal. >> yeah, greatly change it is a concern many of us have, make
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the legislation as difficult as it is to support immigration reform to buy it and to support it because we want to move forward to might any worse instead of to make it difficult. i think that's part of the strategy that even the supporters cannot support it. i think senator mccain used the word practical reason and it is. it's practical and political. there is an accommodation that must be reached. that was proven by the republican party. otherwise they're going to reconcile themselves to a place in history in which they cannot recover and be a political party of any influence in this country. that's the reality. i think we have to deal with reality, not with falsehoods and we have to deal with reality and not fantasy, and the reality is this is a changing demographic in this country. we need to accommodate it, integrate it fully into our society and this country will go on being great and united as
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it's always been with any immigrant that's come to the country it's already been noted at least two senators who made the allegation that part of the proposal that's completely not true, that cell phones for example would be handed out as part of the bill. the bizarre nature of that in and of itself is part of another segment but what do you think of the false story lines that come out and could be seen that would derail this effort? >> i think the proimmigrant reform immigrations across the country are going to have to mount. a sustained campaign with congress and with the american people. we can't just sit back and pretend that we're dealing with people that want to do the right thing. we have to assume that there's going to be roadblocks thrown, falsehoods laid out, lies perpetuated, and we need to counter them immediately, and think that's part of the
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strategy for passing this is to be aggressive out there in the public as you're seeing from the gun safety and gun violence debate. it's the american people who want this. thank's the voice we need to bring to bare on the immigration issue as well. >> thank you so much for your time. i greatly appreciate it. several counties in the midwest declaring states of emergency after major flooding happened right now. in fact, we've got new images out of chicago. we'll have the latest on this severe weather impacting a great portion of the midwest. but first there's a lot going on today and here's some things we thought you should know. the national republican congressional committee has decided for now not to provide any money to former governor mark sanford for his run for congress. that's after court document ace ledge he trespassed at his ex-wife's home. he's facing elizabeth colbert bush on may 7.
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meantime some students at st. john's university in new york are rejecting republican peter king as commencement speaker. they're upset over the controversial hearings he held in 2011 on, quote, muz lichl radicalization. king was invited because of his efforts to secure aid for sandy hook victims. those are just some things we thought you should know. welcnew york state, where cutting taxes for families and businesses is our business. we've reduced taxes and lowered costs to save
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montana montanaro. round one and then round two has to do with the midterm. >> well, look. there are a myriad of reasons why some of these folks voted the way they did but the midterms are clearly in the sights of a lot of people. a little more represent serehnd sent. you can see just where people were having at least difficulty deciding which way they would go. >> so the larger picture again going back to what you guys wrote with first read in the midterms, midterm elections, what is the landscape? you've got red state dems voting no. man shin, rockefeller, tester. what is the anticipation of what will happen?
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>> well, it's going to be something to watch whether the nra putting up money behind these folks who did vote for it. landrieu, hagan who have been out in front of it and if that works. it's going to be a test case of just how much. we at least know where the fear was and what they were operating out of. >> all right, domenico. great pleasure having you on. we'll talk with you soon. thanks so much. >> thanks, tamron. coming up new information with the man charged with mailing letters of what appeared to be ricin and several members of congress including the message that officials say was written in the letters. 's simpl. a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day
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flash flooding in illinois. in fact, we just got new information, nbc news is reporting that illinois governor quinn has declared a state of emergency following the major storm. this massive spring storm caused
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widespread flooding in chicago. this morning closing schools and prompting scattered evacuations. the heavy flow of water caused a giant sinkhole that swallowed three cars. one of the drivers seriously hurt remains hospitalized. it caused delays of air travelers of more than 300 flights. canceled due to severe weather but illinois is not the only focus. several other midwest states also impacted by this severe weather. the justice department has charged a mississippi man with threatening the president. the 45-year-old is suspected of mailing letters with the poison ricin. president obama and senator wicker. he could face a maximum of 15 years in prison and $500,000 fine as well. federal officials say more tests are needed. still ahead we have new video of the west, texas,
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explosion. we'll get an update on the continues search for any survivors. >> and be sure to like the "newsnation" on facebook. ♪ [ acoustic guitar: upbeat ]
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of course you can join the "newsnation" on twitter. our twitter page is @"newsnation." the final update on west, texas, the site of the deadly fertilizer plant explosion. we just received new video of the explosion caught on tape. many stopped to record the inferno moments before the blast itself and joining me by phone is brett esrock. brett, thank you so much for your time. can you give us an update on the facility? >> good afternoon. yesterday evening we saw 65 patients here at providence health center in waco. most of those patients that came in were in the minor to moderate
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category in terms of their severity with injuries varying from contusions, bruises, lacerations all the way up to broken bones and quite a few people, of course, had breathing issues that required breathing treatments for chemical reaction. >> well, brett, i mean we're still waiting to get an update regarding the search and rescue efforts as well as the number of lives lost in this, but when you look at the video of that apartment complex and the homes literally leveled and burning, are you surprised at all that the 65 people brought to your health care facility had what you describe as mostly minor injuries when you just look at this video? >> well, you always prepare for the worst in these situations, tamron, so we did prepare for more critical parents and were pleasantly surprised with the
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minor injuries. the other hospital in town had seen more patients than we did. they had about 95 patients and they receive add few more critical patients than we did. there were some critically injured folks that came out of the west area. >> as far as your response, you're about 18 miles from the site itself. from the response, how long did it take to get emergency personnel from your medical center to help? >> we didn't send a lot there. we were mostly mobilizing our people here at the hochlt we're about 25 miles south of west, texas, so we spent the first hour just mobilizing our troops and getting everything prepared for patients and it took about from the time that blast occurred at 8:00 p.m. it took about an hour, hour and ten minutes before we saw the first patient at our hospital. >> i'm also curious. did you or your staff fee an impact? they say this was equivalent to
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a 2.1 earthquake. >> interesting you ask. we didn't feel it but points north it was felt 50 miles an way. it was an interesting phenomena we didn't feel it 25 miles away. >> interesting. best of luck to you and your staff, brett. we continue to update our audience. the search and rescue continuing and they have yet to determine yet how many people are still trapped in their homes or how many have lost their lives in this devastating explosion in west, texas. we'll continue to follow the breaking news. thank you for joining us on this edition of "newsnation." i'll be back with you tomorrow. in the meantime, "the cycle" is up next. made from a revolutionary material. [ erina ] it totally fits to your body. [ female announcer ] it's incredible protection, you'll barely feel it. always infinity. tell us what you think. bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business.
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